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Drainage to quake lake completed
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The diversion project to drain a dangerous lake in China's quake-hit Sichuan was completed at 10 p.m. on Saturday, a water resources official said.

The major project of a sluice - an irregular cube designed to discharge flooded water - from the Tangjiashan Lake is completed at quake-induced Tangjiashan Lake in southwest China's Sichuan Province, May 31, 2008. The first group of 15 earthquake relief workers handling the Tangjiashan quake-formed lake in China's Sichuan Province boarded a helicopter at 8:35 a.m. Saturday and were evacuated from the dam site. [Xinhua]

By 10 p.m. Saturday, about 135,500 cubic meters of mud and rocks have been removed from the Tangjiashan quake-formed lake, leaving a 475-meter-long channel up to 10 meters wide on the giant blockage, said Liu Ning, chief engineer of the Ministry of Water Resources and deputy director of the diversion project.

The quake lake was formed when the May 12 earthquake triggered landslides and blocked a river. The lake, which holds nearly 200 million cubic meters of water, threatened to burst through the loose blockage and flood millions of people downstream.

The water level of the lake, which had been rising about 1.6 meters daily, was seven meters from the lowest point of the blockage, Liu said.

He added that the plan to blow off the blockage with explosives has been abandoned, as the diversion channel has been completed on time.

More than 10 tons of dynamite carried to the blockage by soldiers trekking mountains have been earlier taken back, so was surplus fuel and garbage, to avoid environmental pollution.

It is expected that the rising water will run over the blockage and continue its trip through the man-made canal. According to Liu, this may happen between June 1-5.

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